The State government in Nigeria should stop funding Nigeria Clubs rather the clubs should be part of Internally Generated Revenue for the state. Thinking deeply this is the root cause of the poor state of the football developments in Nigeria.
The Government thinks they are giving football a lifeline by funding it but they are killing it with their interest in making their political stooges get out of the national cake. This may be the misconception that has led Nigeria football into a comatose state now.
The main reason why Nigeria football is dying so fast even with the huge funding from the government and the large market of over 70 million football fans. But we all know that the Decree101, which gives the government the right to fund and control the sport, is a killer law. It killed all forms of private enterprise spirit that should bring about the growth and development of the sport. Decree 101 was like a noxious remedy administered to our sports back then.
Let me go further explaining this concept again since state government funds our football, it influences who becomes the Chairman or General Manager of the Club be it a sports administrator or not (who pays the piper dictates the tune). This is done solely to favor their political alleys into Executive positions of the football administrative body of the state.
Therefore, persons who don’t have the necessary qualifications and who are not vast in football matters emerge as officials of the state football clubs. These square pegs in round holes commit lots of blunders in making decisions that are drawing our football to the grave. Their decisions are so unstable and the outcome is usually terrible.
For instance, they hire a new coach today and the next day they fire him to hire another one, which they will also fire in a few months’ time. They don’t have a style once you lose your home games you are almost out and they don’t think about the coach developmental program that might bring sales of club’s merchandise and players to the outside world and make enormous returns for the club and the state as ROI if necessary.
These selected executives don’t have any idea of how to generate income for Clubs only to wait for the state government subvention funds and they quickly misappropriate or embezzle it and beg for money from rich fans in the state.
The level of insincerity is so high all because they do not understand what it takes to be a good sports administrator all they know is how to embezzle money being sent in by the state government. There is no accountability of any form, no data to show potential investors as to what level of profit they are making and how their brand will help make more money and impact in the society.
Funds meant for team players, officials, and football development are diverted into private pockets. Players are not well compensated; they don’t hire the right coach at the right time. Consequently, the team performs woefully even when playing with team home fans believe they should win hands down. And no one has the order to question the authority on how they have spent the money or question their end of the year administrative reports, that’s if they even have or know what it is!
The poor administrative performance is a key factor for the low turnout of fans at the stadium on matchdays; Sponsors and advertisers have also distanced themselves from the league. Since there’s no more ticketing and advertising-income, most clubs depend wholly on their state government and philanthropists to provide all the funding for them.
Since this decree has been expunged we must get out of the idea that Clubs will die if state government hands off funding the sport and I think the state government should empower the Clubs with the necessary machinery to make income for themselves remit, profit as ROI as the case may be, involve stakeholders in the state in making a decision and be business-minded in the coming months if we don’t want to go back to unlimited football holiday but this time it’s not going be COVID 19 but lack of administrative structures to correcting our club managements for better performance.
Football flourishes better in private hands that understand sports business and marketing going by the experience of major football countries across the world. If we have the right professionals managing our football like a business, with all the departments financing and accounting, Data analyses, Administrations, and marketing functioning as they should, Nigeria League will come up tops in Africa. The solution is, All Clubs should be truly independent and private participation is driven.